The perfect girls our Mamas meant to rear
seldom appear,

or never, now. Back in my time, wherever
some clever

daughter mouthed off in public, or defied
the social guide,

or thought she could—with arguments!—debate
her elders, fate,

Mama took her aside, not to upset her,
but teach her better:

Be quiet. Sit. Don’t make me say it twice.
Prickly advice.

Some of us turned out much like Mama, though
a silent “No!”

crept into every dialogue, and kept
some secrets swept

into dark corners. But, different altogether,
sons prospered, whether

they matched a pattern set by father, mother,
or chose some other—

all by themselves!—from the adventurings
of ruthless kings,

or buccaneers, or gods from pagan days,
with Papa’s praise

and Mama’s pride. Everybody enjoys
rearing their boys.

Do they break things, mess up, fight, swear and spit?
Get over it.

Read an interview with the poet.